Tag Archives: mental health

“It’s time to break the silence surrounding male suicide”

Norman Lamb and his son Archie opened up on ITV News about Archie’s depression and thoughts of suicide. In a very moving interview with Mark Austin they say what it is like to live with mental illness.

Archie explains:

It just takes over your head. You can’t think of anything else. When you get into depression you cannot think of anything else apart from the gloom of how you are thinking. In my toughest moments you don’t feel like there’s any escape. … I’ve had those thoughts ever since I can remember. They’re not very nice thoughts to have, obviously. It’s really, really horrible and you feel embarrassed to talk about them. At the time I wouldn’t have spoken to my parents about it, or my friends because it is embarrassing.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP: Government must fund equality for mental health

Writing for PoliticsHome, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb argued that the Government must put its money where its mouth is when it comes to ensuring equality for mental health:

The Spending Review is a critical moment that will shape the Government’s spending for the duration of the Parliament, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has an opportunity to make a bold statement on the importance of tackling mental illness. I will not be humoured by the warm words for mental health and my efforts as a minister – it’s about time that this Government put their money where their mouth is.

And it isn’t simply a case of investing to improve mental health services or leaving them the way they are. Mental health trusts are under severe financial strain, and last week’s report by the King’s Fund was the latest in a long line of warnings of the impact of neglecting mental health. There is no doubt that services will slip backwards if we do not take urgent action to provide stable funding for mental health, on a par with physical health.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point during their lifetime, and a far greater number will know somebody who is affected.

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LibLink: Claire Tyler on Equality4MentalHealth

Baroness-Claire-Tyler-1We have covered the launch of the Equality for Mental Health Campaign this week and we also linked to Norman Lamb’s account of his son’s struggles with mental health. And now our spokesperson in the Lords on Mental Health, Claire Tyler, has written an article in Politics Home.

She outlines the campaign then writes:

Our job now is to hold this Government’s feet firmly to the fire and make sure the promised money finds its way into the system and, crucially, that money earmarked for mental health services is indeed spent on mental healthcare by Clinical Commissioning Groups. In a recent, and very welcome, spate of debates and questions in the Lords I have pushed for more details about where and when the additional £1.25 billion promised for young people’s mental health during this Parliament is going to be spent.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb MP – My son’s struggle with OCD showed me the unfairness people with mental illness face

Norman Lamb has been much in the news this week, having launched a cross-party campaign for mental health to be treated equally with physical health across the health service. Norman has written a piece for the Guardian drawing on themes that will be familiar to party members from his excellent conference speech earlier this year.

Here’s an excerpt:

When our oldest son, Archie, was 16, he was clearly very unhappy. He eventually told us just how distressed and troubled he had become. We got a referral to our local children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder followed.

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Norman Lamb launches Equality for Mental Health campaign

Today, Norman Lamb launched a cross-party campaign for improved funding for mental health services. He was joined by Alistair Campbell and Andrew Mitchell MP, as well as a very impressive list of other politicians, professionals, celebrities, mental health charities and community leaders.

Ruby Wax said:

It’s unbelievable that it’s 2015 and there isn’t parity between mental and physical health. They don’t comprehend that mental illness is a physical problem – it just happens to be your brain which is another organ.

The Equality for Mental Health campaign has a lengthy petition which reads:

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What made Norman Lamb threaten to resign?

Norman Lamb tells the Eastern Daily Press that he threatened to resign during his 3 year term as health and social care minister.

The issue was waiting time targets for mental health conditions – and he got his way.

You always had the feeling that Norman knew exactly what he was doing on mental health but never quite knew why. Then in March, the Sunday Mirror revealed that Norman’s son Archie suffers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is absolutely not about having all the tins facing the same way or the bed linen straight. It’s a daily nightmare for those people who are enslaved by its rituals which protect them from dark thoughts.

When his son Archie, now 27, was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 12 years ago, the North Norfolk MP witnessed the problems patients in Norfolk and Suffolk continue to face.

He explained: “As a family we were faced with the problems in Norfolk of long waiting times and told he had to wait six months to start psychological therapies.

“For us that was too long and I gave up on the NHS at that stage. We paid for him to get access to counselling, but I’m acutely aware many people cannot do that. I don’t find that situation tolerable.

“It got to the point where Archie couldn’t walk down the street, he was worried there would be something sharp on the pavement. He found it hard to leave the house. In that situation you are constantly checking things because of the dark thoughts in your mind, which you simply can’t escape from.”

He then talked about the targets he introduced and other things he’d done as health minister:

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World Mental Health Day: Farron and Lamb’s contributions

Both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb have taken note that today is World Mental Health Day. As someone who has had lifelong experience of Anxiety and Depression in varying degrees of intensity,I appreciate the way in which they and Nick Clegg before them fought to get this issue to the forefront. It also greatly aggrieves me that the Scottish government is now light years behind England in mental health provision. We don’t have parity of esteem up here and mental health is as much the Cinderella service as ever it was.

Tim tweeted:

Meanwhile, Norman Lamb wrote for the Huffington Post about his mission when he was care minister to improve mental health and remove the discrimination in the NHS:

The truth is that there is outrageous discrimination at the heart of the NHS. If you have suspected cancer you have a right to see a specialist within two weeks – and rightly so. But if you are a teenager with an eating disorder – a condition which can kill – you have no such right. It’s impossible to justify that.

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Disgraceful attitude to mental health disguised by the warm words of Iain Duncan-Smith

Listening to Iain Duncan-Smith can be enough to send anyone to sleep. He drones on and one can be lulled into thinking he is being quite reasonable.

However, behind his warm words, there is a chilling attitude to disabilities and particularly to mental illness.

He seems to be saying: There must be something you can do if you are suffering from depression.

And: If we start cutting your benefits, that’ll act as a little nudge to push you gently into work.

Blimey. What planet does he live on?

Having had a little experience of mental illness and those suffering from such long-term disabilities, I have to say that none of this washes.

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LibLink: Jim Hume MSP: Out of sight, out of mind? Why the SNP need to get serious on mental health

Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has been writing on the Scottish Liberal Democrat website about the crisis in mental health care in Scotland, where they haven’t had a Norman Lamb in power transforming mental health provision.

In Scotland during the last 5 years, over 4000 people were treated outside their own health board. Jim says that’s not good enough:

Despite the number of patients being discharged from psychiatric hospitals in Scotland falling dramatically in the past decade, hundreds of patients are still facing being treated away from their families and communities.

There will always be some patients who need to be sent to specialist clinics outside of their health board for treatment. But it is clear that mental health units across the country are struggling to cope with demand on their services.

We know that sending patients out of area can isolate them from their support networks, including friends, families and their community care team.

The life-changing nature of such a move means it could also have implications for the civil liberties of an indidividual – which must be considered under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (ScotlandAct 2003.

It can be detrimental to a persons recovery.

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Jim Hume MSP: Scottish mental health units ‘struggling to cope’

From the Scotsman today:

More than 4,000 patients have been sent for mental health treatment outside their health board area in the past five years, according to latest figures.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats, who obtained the figures through parliamentary questions, have warned that mental health units across Scotland are struggling to cope with demand.

The figures show that, in 2013-14, a total of 799 patients were discharged from a psychiatric hospital in a different area from where they live. This compares with 793 in 2012-13 and 855 the year before that.

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Opinion: We need to be more aware of neural diversity

It’s obvious that whomever wins the leadership we’re going to have to nurture a lot of new people (as well as the `old hands`.

I think it’s important that we do so working with the grain of that individual’s personality to allow it to grow for the benefit of the Party. After all, celebration of the individual is supposedly part of the Party’s DNA.

We have started to talk about mental health a lot – and rightly so. It’s a key aspect of our view that everyone should reach their own potential.

Let me introduce you to another concept: Neural Diversity.

What I mean by that is really taking into account the way an individual’s brain ACTUALLY works rather than as we think it SHOULD work. A key difference is that between a preference for Introversion and Extroversion.

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Opinion: A life discarded


Mr K. had arrived on the wing at Brixton Prison on the Friday. By Monday morning he was dead. He had managed to hang himself using a sheet tied around the window bars. No-one knew what time he had died. It would be interesting to know whether the inquest showed up the notoriously lax attitude of Brixton night duty staff to night time cell checks.

No-one really remembered speaking to him and all anyone amongst the prisoners could really say was that he had arrived on Friday, was short and slight, had an Irish accent and kept himself to himself. He had stayed in his cell – one of the few on the wing for single occupancy – except for when he collected his food.

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Opinion: Ending mental health inequality

I joined the Liberal Democrats partially due to the importance that has constantly been put on mental health issues by the party. I have suffered from extreme depression and have ended up in A&E due to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. A couple of weeks ago I was officially discharged from psychiatry and I’m using my voice – as it’s a loud one – for those who are suffering and have lost their voice due to mental health concerns.

Over a month ago I wrote to the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, about her apparent lack of understanding when it comes to mental health concerns. On a radio show involving young voters she claimed that Scotland did not have the same issues as England when it came to mental health parity because in Scotland they already had the same legal status. She even went as far to say to one voter on the panel:

If you don’t think we’re doing enough then I have to convince you we are doing enough.

This could not be further from the truth. That’s why I wrote to her. I wrote that the CAMHS targets are not being met. They say that no child should wait longer than 18 weeks for a referral. Only 78.9% are being seen within that time frame. If you up the limit to 26 weeks only 7% more are being seen. That means that of those who are needing referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services 14% are not being seen within half a year! I’ve included the link to these statistics at the end of the post for those interested. I’ll just copy and paste the response I was given:

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Opinion: We made Mental Health an issue – now we must lead the fight to make it possible

Having worked as a frontline mental health social worker for the past 15 years, there was no-one prouder than I was to see Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb push mental health care (and its place within the NHS) up the political agenda .

There is no doubt that without the determination of our gutsy Party, we would not have seen, over the course of the General Election, the other political parties try to associate themselves with our work: securing more funding for mental health care (particularly child and adolescent mental health care) over the last Parliament.

But as any social work student …

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LibLink: Norman Lamb on a mission


Over on Huffington Post, Norman Lamb has written about his campaign to end discrimination against mental health.

The Liberal Democrats are on a mission to end the discrimination against mental health. From Paul Burstow who changed the law to give mental health equality with physical health to my work ensuring there is proper mental health crisis care available across the country.

Nick Clegg has announced the first ever waiting time standards, ending Labour’s discrimination against mental health that meant it missed out when money was tight. And we’ve committed over a billion pounds to revolutionise children’s mental health. In the next parliament we will go further and invest at least £3.5billion to guarantee better support for people with mental health problems – and improve wellbeing and mental health for everyone.

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Opinion: First term councillor diary – mental health, the Council and me

In 1998 I lived 500 yards from Mick Philpott who was later convicted of killing 6 of his children. I’d met him on one occasion and was told even then he was an odd individual. Never did I expect to see him on the telly, but, having lived in that area, hearing what he had done did not surprise me. There used to be little hope in humanity in a place like Allenton, Derby. In 1998 I’d left with no qualifications, was living in a caravan and had lost my second job in three weeks working in the local bakery. I …

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Nick Clegg says: Employers must be equally supportive of workers with mental and physical health problems

I wrote the other day of my annoyance at the dreadfully stigmatising headlines about mental health in the wake of the Germanwings plane crash.

It’s good to see that Nick Clegg has given quite a detailed interview reported on the Huffington Post while on the battle bus about this issue in which he said that there shouldn’t be a blanket ban of people with mental ill health doing any job. Employers had to look at people’s individual circumstances and be as accepting of people with mental ill health as with physical.

I think it’s very important that we don’t, however understandable in this context, allow what is said about one individual to shape or colour the way in which we regard people who go through episodes of mental health problems.

It’s very important that employers in all walks of life are as accepting of people who are recovering from mental health problems just as much as they would be people who recover from physical health problems.

He warned of the dangers of shutting people with mental ill health out of work:

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P-37: What are the Liberal Democrats talking about today? Mental Health and the manifesto for the mind

We’ll be having daily deeper and more detailed look at the party’s main theme. Today it’s mental health. Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb this morning said that Liberal Democrats (or should that be Democats?) would invest £3.5 billion in mental health over the next Parliament.

Part of our record in Government includes securing £150 million to help young people with eating disorders. A new video shows Kat sharing her experience of living with an eating disorder:

The Party’s Manifesto for the mind outlines a wide-ranging suite of measures to improve mental health services:

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Today’s headlines show just how much work is still to do on mental health stigma

All of us have been moved by the Germanwings plane crash, feeling for those who have lost loved ones or colleagues. The circumstances of the crash, caused by what seems to be a deliberate act by the co-pilot, has provoked much comment in the press, much of it deeply irresponsible. Headlines have screamed about Andreas Lubitz’s mental health demanding to know why he was allowed to fly.

Lurid headlines, written by sub-editors who clearly have no clue about mental health, do not help to either tackle the stigma faced by people with mental ill health or encourage those who suffer to seek help. The more open we can be about mental health, the more we understand. That leads to a more comfortable and sympathetic world for those who are suffering.

It’s worth reading this statement from Mind, which acts the media to report the issue responsibly:

The terrible loss of life in the Germanwings plane crash is tragic, and we send our deepest sympathies to the families. Whilst the full facts are still emerging, there has been widespread media reporting speculating about the link with the pilot’s history of depression, which has been overly simplistic.

Clearly assessment of all pilots’ physical and mental health is entirely appropriate – but assumptions about risk shouldn’t be made across the board for people with depression, or any other illness. There will be pilots with experience of depression who have flown safely for decades, and assessments should be made on a case by case basis.

Today’s headlines risk adding to the stigma surrounding mental health problems, which millions of people experience each year, and we would encourage the media to report this issue responsibly.

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Clegg launches Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation

I think it’s fair to say that Nick Clegg may not exactly rock the tracksuit look, but he did do something very valuable today. In one of his last engagements as Deputy Prime Minister before the election campaign, he launched the Charter for Mental Health in Sport and Recreation aimed at kicking the mental health stigma out of sport. The video explains why:

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Archie Lamb talks to The Times about his struggles with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Norman Lamb’s son Archie has been talking to the Times about his experience of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Many people with this condition find it incredibly irritating when people casually joke about “being a bit OCD”. If you are one of them, perhaps you’ll stop after reading about what life is like for sufferers. This is not a condition to be belittled.

Archie talked about how the condition affects him:

“People think OCD is nothing, that it’s a bit of a joke. It is not just about being clean and washing your hands or lining up cans of Coke in the fridge. It’s not. It’s about terrible thoughts and what it does to you having them in your head all the time. It goes a lot deeper than rituals,” Archie says.

Archie’s rituals were about checking — that lights were switched off, that he had the right kit in his bag, keys, money, everything. Often accompanied with paranoia, they became so bad that at times he could not leave the house. On a simple walk down the road he would constantly check that he had not stepped in something.

Despite his illness, he left school and began to make his way in the music business, setting up a hip-hop night in a Norwich club, then moving on to managing performers. At the age of 21 he had a chart-topping hit on his hands when Tinchy Stryder went to No 1.

Sadly, his OCD was so bad that he had become a recluse. “I suddenly got spots on my face at that age and just could not go out of the house. Everyone was out partying because we had this No 1 hit and I didn’t even care. I just stayed in.”

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Opinion: Will mental health be a vote-winner?

Mark Argent 1

I was surprised when I saw the promotion of mental health emerging Liberal Democrat policy. Its effects are far more widespread than people like to admit, but mental health is so stigmatised that it seems a long way from being a vote-winner. Like entering the coalition, championing it seems like something important, but where we might have to pay a price in terms of popularity.

It is a difficult area to write about. Among my own circle of friends there are a number of people whose lives are badly affected by mental health issues. The area is so stigmatised that I feel I can’t tell stories in writing, but the stories I can’t write down would include some real achievements, of people coping with really difficult situations.

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Opinion: Could you save a life?

As a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate I have received emails from St John Ambulance and from the British Red Cross, both wishing to promote First Aid. But what about mental health first aid? With equal parity now being given to mental and physical health, shouldn’t First Aid include Mental Health First Aid?

I think so. And I am pleased that Lib Dems at conference thought so too, for we approved new mental health policy which included a clause I submitted with the support of Oxford East:

To consult with external bodies on the content of, and how best to include training in, Mental Health First Aid, with a view to incorporating elements of Mental Health First Aid into existing First Aid at Work courses.

Imagine the world before First Aid classes, before people were taught the recovery position and CPR. Before such training, if someone was ill people would flap and call for help. They would not get involved.

The same thing happens when people are in mental health crisis. People feel inadequate, have no idea how to help, and do not get involved.

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Norman Lamb writes…A blueprint for a fairer society

1 in 4 of us will develop a mental health problem at some point in our lives – and 75% of these conditions develop by the age of 18. If people don’t get the support they need in childhood and adolescence it can have an impact on the rest of their lives.  
And in yesterday’s budget, Liberal Democrats acted decisively to make sure the best possible support is available, with £1.25bn of new investment in young people’s mental health services, and a clear blue print for delivering the transformation needed.
If we want to build a fairer society, where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full potential in life, we must ensure that young people with mental health problems get the help and support they need.
There are some really good mental health services for young people around the country. But too often these services are fragmented and under-resourced, and young people are simply not getting help when they need it.  A complete overhaul is long overdue.
Last year, I set up a Task Force to look at how we can link up mental health services with other advice services in the community, making it easier – and less daunting – for young people to seek help, and making sure they get the right support when they ask for it.
The task force brought together clinicians, counsellors, and mental health experts – but also, crucially, young people themselves with experience of mental health problems.  The charity Young Minds helped us work with young people to understand the problems they have faced getting help, and their priorities for change.
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Live this evening – Nick Clegg’s “State of Mind”

It’s one of those headings where the speech marks are essential …

Nick says he wants to “lift the lid on what it is like for the one in four people in the UK who suffer with mental illness”. He will be hosting a programme this evening on LBC in which he will interview people with mental health problems and those who support them, followed by a Q&A.

You can watch the programme live at 7pm today.

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Paul Burstow MP writes… Mental health and employment support must be available to all who need it

For most people, work plays a defining role in their lives. It provides structure, the money to live and enjoy life, and for the lucky ones, it can provide a sense of achievement and purpose. Every one of these elements is a component in supporting good mental health, and helps to explain in part the vicious cycle of mental ill-health and unemployment, as well as the critical role that employment can play in mental health recovery.

But it’s sadly not true to assume that work is always good for you mental health. Surveys have found the mild to moderate mental health problems – including stress, anxiety or depression – are the most common reasons people are signed off work, and mental ill health costs UK employers £26billion every year: £8.5billion in sickness absence, £15.1billion in lost productivity and £2.4billion in staff turnover. That’s an average of more than £1000 for every employee, so it’s in everybody’s interests to make sure that employers do everything they can to improve employees mental health, and to encourage them to seek support and treatment as soon as mental health problems develop. While there are some fantastic employers who ‘get’ mental health and its debilitating impact on their employees as well as their business, a recent survey conducted by CentreForum found that two thirds of people said they had been treated unfairly in keeping a job, and 75% said they had stopped themselves applying for work due to fear of discrimination. This needs to end.

That’s why the Mental Health Commission I chaired made the workplace one of our priorities for action. As we recommended, there should be a concerted effort to make UK businesses and services mental health friendly employers, with all organisations with more than 500 employees signing up to a mental health kitemark and 90% of these organisations on board by 2020. I am proud to be able to say that we established the first government funding for the Time to Change campaign – which works to end mental health discrimination – during my tenure as Minister responsible for mental health. It is fantastic that under Norman Lamb, the government have committed to continue funding this crucial work.  To maximise our impact, we now need to ensure that all public sector bodies have taken up the mantle, and use public sector procurement to filter this commitment throughout the distribution chain. At the same time, Norman Lamb has called on all FTSE 100 companies to sign up to the Time to Change initiative – and this is a call we should all echo.

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Opinion: Mental health – is prevention a potential solution?

Just as public health experts develop strategies to tackle binge drinking, smoking and obesity, do we need to develop a more comprehensive approach to preventing mental ill health? With youth depression, alone, having doubled in the last 20 years, maybe it’s time to look again at ways to prevent mental health problems from taking their toll at different stages in our lives. It’s complicated, but here are just some thoughts on what might help.

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Opinion: How the UK immigration system damaged my mental health #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015I wanted to talk a bit about how immigrating to the UK has affected my mental health, because both mental health and immigration are subjects on which I ‎look to the Lib Dems to support me with, via good policies and campaigning.

I’ve been in the UK nine years now, but when I’m standing in that non-EU passports line (I’ve long been eligible for citizenship but I can’t afford the application fees), I can’t help but hear similar interrogations going on to the ones I remember when I first came here and was interrogated by a big scary scouser for two hours– how long are you staying? how much money have you got with you? — I can’t help but think “that’s how it started…”

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Thanks for talking #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015Regular readers will be used to me banging my drum on these pages about the work that Lib Dems are doing in government on mental health.

Mental health has been disadvantaged within the NHS for far too long, and changes like legislating for equality for mental health, introducing the first access and waiting time standards, and – in particular – confronting the poor state of children’s mental health services in many places are all incredibly important.

But something just as important has been happening here on Lib Dem Voice today.

I wrote here about Time to Talk a year ago, saying that contributions from fellow members had reinforced for me, powerfully, why I am a Liberal Democrat. Tackling mental health stigma is fundamentally about freedom – freedom from poverty, ignorance, and conformity.

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Opinion: He told me I was ordinary #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015Hi, my name is Alex. I’m an 18 year old who loves travelling, ABBA and wearing waistcoats for no apparent reason.

I’ve also got a mental illness.

The psychiatrists aren’t quite sure what it is. For a while they thought it was Bipolar Disorder, now they are starting to think it’s Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m a bit of a curious case.

I suffer from intense emotions: anxiety, anger, sadness, happiness etc. I have too much of all of them and switch between them at the drop of a hat. It makes me unpredictable and sometimes unreasonable. I store things up until I burst. Being my friend is difficult. You have to get used to the odd paranoid outburst and over enthusiasm when I’m in a very good mood.

One day a teacher did something to set me off. He’d joked about one of my habits – I still suck my thumb because it helps me feel safe – in front of my class. I took myself off to the bathrooms and burst into hysterical sobbing. I used my nails to scratch my arms red raw and kicked at the wall until my leg tired.

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